With Knee and I...

Since the Reading Half Marathon I haven't done too much in the way of distance running, to the point where I haven't breached 5 miles all that often. About 2 months ago I started working my distance up again, in preparation for a winter of doing some competitive runs, and (hopefully) improving my time in next years half marathon.
The training runs I do fall into one of 4 types, each with a specific aim. First off you have pace runs, where the aim is to do a flat medium distance (in my case about 3-4 miles) as fast as you can...this improves lower leg strength, and also works your cardio-pulmonary system. Then you have your interval runs, which are hideous. With these you do a short distance/time at as close to a flat-out sprint as you can, then rest for a short time, then do it all over again. I'm currently doing 3 minutes at 18km/h, then a 3 minute fast walk, repeated 5 times. Trust me when I say this is brutal stuff, and by the end of it you typically are flat on the ground. This type of torture works something called VO2Max, which in simple speak is how fast you can process oxygen...the more you can haul through your lungs, the more energy you can exert in a given time period. Next up you have hill runs, which can take a few forms, with most being different sequences of running up slopes and flat recovery sections. If you are feeling particularly perky you can always do hill sprints, which is a combination of intervals and hills, where you run flat out up a given distance a few times. This focuses on the upper legs, and builds strength, while also improving your "suspension", as much of the impact of running is absorbed by the knees and quads.
Finally you have the long run, which is probably the thing you see most people doing when you are going home from work. No matter how clever you are with your training, ultimately you have to do the distance work as well. Of all the training I do, this is the one that I have to do outside...you simply can't do long distance running on a treadmill. For a start gym's are too hot for it, and also you need to get used to running on tarmac...its a lot less forgiving on your joints, and you have to toughen up. You also need to learn to pace yourself. Its here where injuries are most lightly to occur...if you think that each pace you take carries you a metre, that means that for every mile you run, each foot takes 800 impacts of over 70 kilos...thats a huge amount of impacts to fall on a fairly small area. The shock of that goes up through the calf, knee and ultimately into the spine. In the year I've been running I've picked up injuries on pretty much every part of my legs, and more than once managed to hobble myself to some vicious degree or another. I've learnt a lot about what I'm physically capable of in the last year, and I'm hoping to carry that forward and make sure that this year my training is as optimal as it can be. I've started using some geeky little toys like a Heart Rate Monitor, linked to a running computer, and this is pretty handy at pushing myself to my utmost in a training session.
This week I've done a couple of long runs. On Monday I did a 8.5km run with the gym running club. I was running with another lad, and we made good pace, with the last 4km being done at pretty much full race pace. On Tuesday I did my formal Long Run of 20km (for reference, a half-marathon is 21km). In the last couple of kilometres I had some issues with my knees, which has been a bit of a recurring issue for me, however I managed to nurse my way back to the gym without aggravating it too much, and now, 48 hours later, they are feeling pretty good, with no aches and no pains. I did a circuits class tonight, and apart from my normal shocking lack of co-ordination no issues surfaced, so I'm happy to continue with my normal training sessions on Friday and Saturday.
I don't want to damage anything right now as I have a race next weekend, a little something called HellRunner, which is a trail run (cross country, only moreso) between 10 and 12 miles in length. I've never done off-road before (the O2O 10K run was multi terrain, but I don't think flat grass and forest paths quite counts) so its going to be a bit of an unknown...really looking forward to it though. I have to sort myself out some proper off-road shoes in the next week, and do a bit of wearing in...fortunately I can allow myself to cut down on distance a bit next week, to let my energy levels build up a bit in preparation. Once thats out the way then its the long winter haul to race fitness next year...I've set myself some pretty hard targets, given that I damn nearly hit last year's one, and now 'm a year on, and a bit smarter in my training.


I can vouch for the running computer. It's tip top and the geek in me really loves the graphs you get out.

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